Cycling Traffic Growth and Advocates

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013As cycling advocates we spend significant time for the purpose of realizing significant growth of cycling traffic in our cities, provinces, and country.  As advocates, significant growth will only come from focusing on enticing car drivers to give cycling a chance as an alternate transportation mode or in combination with transit or car trips.  We can see the success of many cities in gaining significant cycling traffic growth within a short time frame from a couple of years to five years.  Usually this was achieved through upgrading the cycling networks, upgrading the cycling infrastructure design toolkits, or through marketing.

Usually Copenhagen is used as an example, a city that has achieved a 4% growth within two years.  There are many other cities in Europe that have achieved significant growth, some small, some large, through energetically implementing quality networks and infrastructure that entice motorists.  There are also examples in North America of that.  The City of Vancouver’s downtown peninsula is a good example.  Back in the year 2000, it had a short, few blocks of a bike lane, a shared bus / bike lane and some other traffic calming.  Today, separated bike lanes, cycling infrastructure and traffic calming for encouraging cycling are within a block or two and hard to miss in the business, retail, and residential areas of the peninsula, include along the sports stadiums.  Along with it has come significant growth of 100% to more than 300% in cycling traffic growth.

Portland has been a prime example of what can be done through effective marketing with its cycling traffic growth exploding from less that 1% to 6% in five years.  Their marketing was so good that a basic 1990-style and quality cycling infrastructure and network and lack of downtown facilities did not stop the growth.

Back in the 1070’s to 1990’s there were serious advocators and capable cyclists throughout North America that believed that cycling traffic growth was all about education.  Cycling infrastructure and network were not needed.  These children of the John Forrester’s mindset were very determined in spreading their gospel onto politicians, municipal staffers, and the public.  Cycling mode share of less than 1.5% in cities proofed them to be going in the wrong direction.

Yet today, we have some children of the Forrester’s mindset that believe that significant cycling growth can occur from other techniques such as events, rather than having convenient, comfortable, low-stress, and perceived safe cycling facilities and networks.  Now, has this resulted in significant, sustainable cycling traffic growth in many cities?  Where?

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013As cycling advocates, we should take every advantage of a city willing to increase a cycling network or cycling infrastructure of any level.  It might not meet our personal vision or desires.  It might not be in the place where we would want to see it go first.  It might not attract real cycling growth, but just minimal.   We may feel the growth of cycling facilities to be way to slow.  However, any cycling growth will expose more motorists to the opportunity for traveling with another transportation model and might just cause some of them to move to cycling or cycling with transit or car.

Any advancement in cycling network and infrastructure should be positively greeted and supported by cycling advocates and the cycling public.  We should not hesitate to show our visions and preferences but we should support any advancement.  My thoughts.